As I was getting into my car Tuesday evening at Warner Park, I heard someone shout my name, and as I looked around I noticed an old familiar face heading toward me. It was Gerald Harris, the former Tyner and Middle Tennessee State basketball star, whom I had not seen in ages. Of course, right away we talked about how excited we were to be able to go home and watch our Blue Raiders face St. Mary’s in the NCAA Tournaments’ “First Four” offering in Dayton, Ohio. After all, it had been 23 years since MTSU had even been to the “Big Dance”. After suffering through a low-scoring first half, (St. Mary’s led 29-20) I realized that picking games with my heart never works. St. Mary’s won 67-54, so as I filled out the remainder of my NCAA bracket, I was determined to, as I mentioned on Monday, just go with my gut.
Here we go…… I’ll begin in the Midwest. The Louisville Cardinals are the top seed and should advance to the Final Four. In my upset special in the Midwest, I see #11 St. Mary’s knocking off #6 Memphis on Thursday, and #13 New Mexico State will upset 4th seed Saint Louis. The most exciting game: Louisville versus Duke for the title.
In the West Region, Gonzaga is the top seed, but the “Zags” won’t make the Final Four. Ohio State, the number two seed will knock off Gonzaga in the Elite Eight, and the Buckeyes will advance. In the upsets to look for, watch for #12 Ole Miss to beat #5 Wisconsin in round one, but the Johnny Rebs will lose to # 4 Kansas State in the round of 32. #11 Belmont will scare #6 Arizona but the Wildcats should prevail. The most exciting game: Ohio Sate versus Notre Dame in the round of 32.
In the East Region, top-seed Indiana should advance to the Final Four, but the Hoosiers will have to defeat, #2 Miami, and #4 Syracuse to do it. In the only real upset in the region, #14 Davidson will knock off #3 Marquette in the opening round. (Am I picking with my heart again, or is this my gut?) From there it’s clear sailing for Indiana to beat #2 Miami in the Elite Eight. The most exciting game: Indiana versus Syracuse in the Sweet 16.
Finally, in the South…….I pick the 3rd seed Florida Gators to advance to Atlanta and the Final Four. They’ll knock off top seeded Kansas in the Elite Eight to advance to a date with Indiana in the national semi-finals. As far as upsets go, #10 Oklahoma will beat #7 San Diego State in round one, and in a mild upset in the round of 32, Virginia Commonwealth, the 5th seed, will take care of 4th seed Michigan. The most exciting game: Florida versus Georgetown in the Sweet 16.
In the Final Four in Atlanta, I see Florida edging Indiana in one semi-final, while Louisville takes care of Ohio State in the other. In the National Championship Game, Louisville will hand Rick Petino the title, with a win over the Gators.
So, there it is; my predictions from my bracket, which was chosen by my “gut” feeling rather than my heart or a lot on analytical research. (Of course some of these picks could be the result of heart-burn.)
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).